The Caretaker: Book Review

Saturday, November 30, 2013
Here's my sixth book in The First Read Author's Pledge : The Caretaker by A.X.Ahmad

Title : The Caretaker
Author : A.X. Ahmad
Genre: Fiction
Price [INR] : Rs 399 Buy THE CARETAKER from for Rs 219.(or Hardcover here)
Number of Pages : 294
Publisher : Minotaur
ISBN : 978-125001684-3

The Blurb:
Ranjit Singh, a former Indian Army Captain trying to escape a shameful past and working as a caretaker on Martha's Vineyard, moves his family into an empty Senator's home.  But one night, their idyll is shattered when mysterious armed men break into the house.  Forced to flee, Ranjit is pursued and hunted by unknown forces and becomes drawn into the Senator's shadowy world.  As the past and present collide, Ranjit must finally confront the hidden event that destroyed his Army career and forced him to leave India before it costs him his family as well.

The Story:
Ranjit Singh, an ex-Indian army officer, commanded an elite army squad at the Siachen glaciers during his time as a Captain. But that was years ago, before his Army career ended in dishonor, shattering his reputation. Due to the circumstances, he had to leave his homeland to end up living as a caretaker on the exclusive resort island of Martha’s Vineyard, looking after the vacation homes of the rich and powerful. One harsh winter, faced with no other choice, he secretly moves his family into the house of one of his clients, an African-American Senator. Here, his wife and daughter are happy, and he feels safe for the first time in ages. But Ranjit’s idyll is shattered when mysterious men break into the house and thus begins his chase to freedom for him and his family. His only ally is Anna, the Senator’s beautiful wife, who has secrets of her own. As his chase stirs up long forgotten events, the caretaker must finally face the one careless decision that ruined his life- and forced him to leave India. 

About the Author:
A. X. AHMAD was raised in India, educated at Vassar College and M.I.T., and has worked as an international architect. As Amin Ahmad, his short stories and essays on immigrant life have been published in The Missouri Review, The Harvard Review, The New England Review, Narrative Magazine and The Good Men Project. He was a finalist for Glimmertrain's Short Story Award, and has been listed in Best American Essays. He lives in Washington, D.C, where he teaches writing.

My Review:
The strongest point of the novel is the protagonist - Ranjit Singh. As Goodreads correctly describes, The Caretaker introduces a new hero for our times: an immigrant caught between two worlds and a man caught between two loves. The character Ahmad has described is a strong man who loves on his principles - got court-martialed but still he chose to support his friends and stand-by the truth. But as the story progresses, we see different sides of him and yet it is very easy to relate to him in each of his decisions and circumstances. Also, Ahmad has quite aptly described an illegal-immigrant family - their circumstances, their choices and the little things that make them happy. He has beautifully portrayed the life of an immigrant in another country. He captured the feeling of being an outsider, of missing one's home country, of being evaluated and labeled that many foreign nationals feel when they emigrate.

I must say this is a very-well written, page turning book and I enjoyed reading it thoroughly. With some twists coming through out and the plot moves along so quickly I found it was hard to put the book down. The beginning chapters made me glued to it that I didn't even want to skip a word  and with quotes from Gurbani added to the happy moments. Being a Bengali Muslim, he has formulated the character of a Sikh quite remarkably - with a lot of work being put in!

It is a suspense thriller but I would say its still a sad story - the protagonist has to face the toughest of circumstances all his life and never did he get happiness he deserved. The author could have given him tits and bits of happiness - maybe a little. Also, I couldn't connect with the two leading ladies - his wife and his love. His wife cribs a lot and doesn't trust me - EVER! If she was so unhappy, why did she ever come with him. She could have stayed with her family in India or at least her uncle in Boston. Also, she was too greedy for a girl from a very humble background. The other lady, Anna, seemed too confused as well - in terms of her personal life. Also, I found it bit dragging in the end with some prolonged scenes in the last few chapters, especially, those intimate moments between Ranjit and Anna, and wanting for more Tea - that too when his family is suffering in deportation - an honorable family man doesn't do that! Does he? He may have stopped loving his wife, but a father can do that when his daughter is in deportation doesn't seem realistic. 

To be honest, for me the book ended abruptly with no definite end to Ranjit Singh. Maybe it's a recipe for sequel. Let's wait and watch if a sequel comes! 

With all its ups and downs, for a debut novel, it seemed pretty good to me. It could have been better, but it isn't bad. I wouldn't recommend it as a must read, but if you pick it up, it wouldn't disappoint you. 

My rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars. 

 This book was sent to me by IndibloggerGet Published-Book Reviews.
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My First Liebster Award!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Yay! I won! I won! Finally I got nominated for the Liebster Award! My first ever! Although I am not really sure why is it called nominated and not won? I mean if I am "nominated", how will I win now? :O So I am gonna flaunt it like I won it! :D :) 

My loving Bhabhi, Divya, nominated me for the Liebster award! See, it helps to have bloggers in the family - if no one else gives you the award, you can bribe your bhabhi to nominate you! :D

So here I am - all set to flaunt my first ever Liebster award! It's Legen-wait-for-it-daryyyyyyyyy!

  •  What is your favourite place and why?

I haven't really travelled much and my first ever abroad trip was a short visit to Birmingham, United Kingdom recently. The place is really beautiful and the trip was fun but it made me realize one thing- there's no place like home! I can never be as happy or content anywhere as I am at my home sweet home! And not to forget,  I can't get Mom's yummy food anywhere else!

  • What would be that one wild thing you intend to do in your lifetime?
Bungee jumping - without a thought! I have always always always wanted to try it once. I might get a heart attack while jumping actually, so i am just postponing it for now!

  • How do you define serenity? Illustrate with examples.
I define serenity as being calm and peaceful, just like the sea. It has huge waves and a whole lot of turbulence in it and yet, it manages to calm a turbid soul with such ease.

  • If you were to ask only one question to an alien, what would that be?
Did Jadoo reach back home safely?

  • Light shades or dark colours? Reasons?
The bright, crisp shades liberate happiness for me. Bright Yellow. Funky Red. Sea Blue. Fluorescent Green. Crisp Pink. I am already beaming with happiness.

  • What is your dream job?
My dream job is dreaming. :D To sleep and dream, that's all I wanna do! :P

  • Describe your favourite birthday experience.
I may sound very boring to you but I prefer a simple dinner with family to a big (surprise) party! Just everyone together fighting over the last piece of cake on a dinner table! ;)

  • Given a chance, what will you change about the planet earth?
I would definitely like to make it more greener with beautiful landscapes to be cherished.

  • What do you do when you have absolutely free time?
I am addicted to sitcoms and rom-coms. Among sitcoms, Friends has been my favourite till date, although nowadays, I am watching thriller series, Dexter.

  • What is it that you don’t like in someone?
This is a tough one. Ummm. I dislike lies and liars; hypocrisy; and petty behaviour.

Now comes the tough part. As per the following rules, I need to draft 10 questions of my own to be answered by the people I nominate!
  • Link back to the person's blog who has nominated you and convey thanks for giving the award.
  • Answer all the questions posted by the nominator.
  • Nominate 10 more bloggers whom you feel deserve of more subscribers; you pass the award on to them.
  • Create 10 questions for the nominees.
  • Contact the nominees and let them know that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award!

Following are the people whom I want to nominate for the Liebster Award (hopefully, their first as well!):
3. Nandini Deka -
4. Arumugam Easwar -
6. Bhavya Kaushik -
7. Jaideep Khanduja -
And your questions are:
  1. Describe yourself in less than 10 words.
  2. How did you pick your blog’s name?
  3. Which is the best book you've read recently.
  4. Which is your favourite childhood memory?
  5. Summers or Winters?
  6. What is your all-time favorite quote? (Mine is: If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done!)
  7. When you were five, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you do it?
  8. If you were on a deserted island, what 3 items would you want with you?
  9. If you had to get on stage, what would you like to perform - sing or dance?
  10. What’s your favorite post that you've written? (Link, please!)

Happy Blogging! :D
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Ram-Leela: Way to Fall in Love!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela - To be truly honest with you, I had no intention/curiosity to watch this movie but as my Bhaiya-Bhabhi were going, I tagged along. As you know about my past experiences with Ranveer Singh's movies, ever since Lootera I had planned on never watching his movies again. But fate had planned differently and thank god, it did.

Ram-leela, much contrasting to my expectations, turned out to be a real delight. Like all Sanjay Leela Bhansali movies, it was grand with large audiences in the background and big sets - the only difference this time being the colours present in them this time. :P It is a love story based loosely on the famous Shakespeare's novel "Romeo and Juliet". 

I never thought I'll ever be able to say this but Ranveer Singh acted well and better than Deepika Padukone (not that it was tough to beat Deepika in acting). But it is definitely tough to beat her in looks - she looks outstanding in the movie. And I didn't understand one thing - there was such a huge hype about Deepika being insecure about priyanka's item number in the movie - Really? :O I think that particular song was the worst song in the movie and so not required. I guess it was added just for the heck of adding an item number - although Priyanka looked hot in the song, she couldn't beat Deepika's dimpled smile which melts your heart in a second. But Sanjay Bhansali did a great job in getting the best out of Ranveer and Deepika!

The USP of the movie still lies in the songs. Some of its songs are so soothing that I can just sit in quiet and listen to them on a loop. My most favourite one is Lahu munh lag gaya. Apart from it are Tattad Tattad (better known as Ram ji ki chaal dekho) - if you are Ranveer's fan or a perfect abs fan, you can drool over him in this song!, Mohe rang laga de and Nagada sang dhol. Sanjay Bhansali has himself composed the songs of the movie which show the amount of love with which he has made the movie.

This is one of the very few movies which made me cry in a very long time! So, I would give this movie a rating of 4 on 5.

P.S. - The movie has adult content. So go to watch with family at your own risk!
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Smart Suraksha Tips!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Whenever I have to leave for a new place, my parents are always so concerned about my safety. Even in Delhi, when I am coming home late from work, my mom keeps calling me or whatsapping to inquire about my whereabouts! (yeah! She's pretty tech-savvy) But most of the parents have this concern for their daughters residing in Delhi - be they locals or from some other city! The police seems to be taking measures to provide safety, but we have to remain very alert ourselves!

So here are some handy tips for the safety of girls in Delhi city (with a lot of inputs from my Mom):

1. First and foremost, learn self-defence. Even very basic knowledge will help you as it will give you the confidence and you'll not panic as much as you might in the other case.

2. When leaving late from work, keep your family/friends informed of your location. This will help you a lot as there will be someone waiting for you and thus, they will know if you are late for any reason! Also, if you are taking a cab, text them the taxi number.

3. Whenever you are walking on the road, never be so engrossed in your phone as you'll be an easy target for someone to attack you! Always be very attentive while walking on the road.

4. Pepper Spray, chilly powder, anything that makes noise - these are some of the things you should always carry in your bag if you travel late at night or in secluded areas.

5. Don't be easy, fight for yourself. Experts advise that rapists and thieves want an easy target, so if you shout, hit them back, put up a fight - chances are someone might hear you and come to your rescue! Never comply with them under any circumstances - don't beg them to leave you, instead hit them as hard as you can and shout your lungs out!

6. Whenever you plan to go out late in the evening, plan how you will be getting back home. If possible, ask someone to pick you up or drop you back home. Its better than searching for a taxi late in the night.

7. Don't talk to strangers - not even when they look torn and miserable! The problem with girls is they sympathise a lot and there are a lot of people who are waiting out there to take advantage of that! An example of that is the poor lost child moving around with a piece of paper with his "apparent" address on it and asks you to drop him home!

8. If you get to your car in a parking lot and see a flat tire. Go back to the shop/mall/restaurant and ask for assistance. Don't approach your car alone because when you are trying to fix your tire alone, you are in a very vulnerable position. Also, if any guy/girl come to offer help, don't accept it. The security guard at the mall is much more responsible as he can be tracked later whereas a stranger cannot!

9. If a huge van is parked next to your car, get in from the passenger seat! And once you are in your car, don't waste time fiddling with your keys or texting on phone! Just lock the doors and move!

10. Install Smart Suraksha app! It is one such application for Android phones which at the touch of a single button sends your message of help to five pre-chosen contacts on your phone. Another great feature of this app being that along with your message, it also fetches and sends your location to the chosen contacts even if the GPS setting on your phone is switched off. This ensures that at all times you are reachable to your close ones and that your safety is ensured.

Stay Alert! Stay Safe!

I am sharing my Smart Suraksha Tips at in association with Smart Suraksha App.
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